HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

KAD dot Com ready for U dot Com

Dividend tax may be abolished

Tough regulations for fruit and vegetable exports will prevent trade barriers

Energy efficiency in industrial sector necessary in order to peg oil price

KAD dot Com ready for U dot Com

Opening early April

Supatatt Dangkrueng

Kad Suan Kaew will be opening the largest IT center in the northern region in the beginning of April. The project, aptly named KAD.COM, will be ready for launch on the 1st of April at Zone C on the third floor.

Many companies are taking part in KAD.COM, with some coming from Bangkok’s Panthip Plaza, producing an “IT City”, a computer accessories and service center providing all IT needs including scanners, printers, modems, networks and other peripherals.

In addition, Advance Research Co Ltd. will open their well-known bookstore ‘AR4U’ offering IT books and a coffee corner inside the store. To continue with the IT theme, a food court is planned, named FOOD.COM to serve customers with food and beverages.

More than 1,000 square meters have been reserved by companies from Panthip Plaza but there is still space available for the northern investors. Contact Kad Suan Kaew 0 5322 4444 ext 19928.

Dividend tax may be abolished

The Ministry of Finance is considering the feasibility of abolishing taxes on dividends to avoid duplication with corporate tax. Suchart Chaowisit said that abolishing dividend taxes would benefit investors, but that the Finance Ministry also had to ensure that abolition would not affect the national budget.

The Thai stock market’s recovery has been slow and the Middle East conflict will not improve matters. Suhcart expressed hope that the effects would only be short term, saying that the Thai economy is now based on strong fundamentals.

The finance minister said that the government is developing the role of the debenture market because investors are looking for low-risk investments.

The issuing of new government bonds, developing the debenture trading system and pushing for the establishment of a repayment center for the private and public sectors are all measures being taken to improve the investment climate.

Meanwhile, Kittirat Na Ranong, marketing manager of the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) said that the SET had no plans to close the SET or put a temporary stop to trading during the war between the US and Iraq, but promised that the SET would provide investors with up to date information on the latest situations.

Tough regulations for fruit and vegetable exports will prevent trade barriers

The Ministry of Commerce is preparing regulations governing the export of fruit and vegetables to seven major export markets to help prevent the imposition of trade barriers.

The deputy agriculture minister announced the measures in the wake of a recent ban on the import of Thai longans imposed by China, which claims to have found insecticide and toxin residue in them.

Newin Chidchob said that China’s stance showed that the world was becoming increasingly conscious of health issues, and in particular chemical residue in agricultural products. He said the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives had called on the Ministry of Commerce to issue regulations governing the export of fruit and vegetables to seven major markets - the European Union, the United States, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Canada and Japan.

Any fruit and vegetables exported to these countries will first have to receive certification from the Ministry of Agriculture to prove that they had been inspected for crop pests and chemical residue. Thailand is anxious to protect its lucrative fruit and vegetable markets, which earn it around 20 billion baht each year.

Newin conceded that Thailand had to modify its goods in the light of the increasing pressure to upgrade its export products to boost its export competitiveness. He promised that the new regulations would not delay exports, as the ministry had already laid down mechanisms to ensure that exporters will not meet with any obstacles. (TNA)

Energy efficiency in industrial sector necessary in order to peg oil price

The government is likely to use money earmarked for boosting national competitiveness to peg the price of petrol, as it scrambles to find ways to combat soaring oil prices. One way to do this is to promote energy saving campaigns in factories.

Energy Minister Dr. Prommin Lertsuridej says that the Energy Conservation Promotion Fund committee was ordered to do studies on energy consumption in the industrial sector. Some sectors recorded increased energy use in line with economic expansion while in others sectors the energy consumption remained stable. This is an indication there is room for greater efficiency. “Promoting energy efficiency in factories should lead to a reduction in peak electricity consumption”, Dr. Prommin said.

The construction of a single new electricity generating station would require investment of around US$1 billion. The committee has worked out numbers that show if the peak rate could be reduced by 1,000 megawatts per year not only would the government save this money in investment, it would also save the money otherwise spent on the interest on borrowing this sum.

Industry Minister Somsak Thepsuthin said that he had ordered factories under the ministry’s jurisdiction to focus on saving energy, and that the National Productivity Institute in particular had worked hard to modify its equipment to cut down on fuel use.

Despite government efforts to campaign for the efficient use of energy, Thailand’s oil consumption in January actually rose by 8% on the previous year’s figures. Critics have suggested that the government’s decision to peg the price of oil has led to complacency among the general public.